Back on the Burr Trail
After leaving the Calf Creek Falls that afternoon, I headed east following two
of my favorite routes in America: Utah Highway 12 and the Burr Trail.
Words can't describe either road -- especially my words -- so I'll just post
some photos. Highway 12 is fantastic but the Burr Trail is absolutely
phenomenal, even though the last 20 miles are unpaved. The dirt stretch is
a little bumpy, but it's graded and my two-wheel drive Toyota pickup didn't have
any trouble. Few people know about the Burr Trail but it's an amazing
drive, and I've spent many evenings in rainy Portland during the past few years
wishing I were back on the dusty Burr Trail again.
As the sun started to lower on the horizon, I pulled
off the empty road just south of Capitol Reef National Park, drove a hundred
yards down a dirt track, and stopped my truck at the edge of spectacular Clay
Canyon, one of my favorite camping sites in the U.S. Time for more Nacho
Doritos, Pace salsa, and Diet Pepsi.
Relaxing on my folding chaise lounge, I looked
around and figured that I was probably the only person that evening within 200
square miles. I can't imagine a better place to eat chips and salsa than
at the edge of desolate yet oh-so-beautiful Clay Canyon.
Above left: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was created in
1996 by President Clinton. Too bad, because now everyone knows about this
beautiful part of Utah.
Above center: The fabulous 52-mile Burr Trail, which is actually a
two-lane (well, one-and-a-half lane) road from Boulder, Utah, to Capitol Reef
Above right: The most incredible part of the Burr Trail is at the top
of a mile-long stretch of switchbacks. This is like driving down a
corkscrew and it's a real thrill. It's a dirt road, but even two-wheel
drive vehicles like my truck can make it.
Looking for another campsite. Don't worry about entering gates
unless they're specifically marked "No Trespassing" -- just make sure you
close them after you pass through. Fences on public land are to keep
cattle in, not to keep visitors out.
Once in a while, I'll stumble across a fantastic campsite like this one,
overlooking 1,000-foot deep Clay Canyon near Lake Powell. Those are
the Henry Mountains in the background, the last explored mountain range in
the lower 48 states. This is one of the most remote areas in the
Above right: After driving on the Burr Trail, nothing tastes better
than Doritos, salsa and a cold Diet Pepsi. Beautiful, empty places like
this are why I love Utah.
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